Whenever I’m far from home and mention that I’m a Maryland girl, I’m inevitably asked about our major export and local claim to fame: crabs. You know — the big, scary red ones with the claws (and shells!) you crack open and eat? By the time I was old enough to listlessly poke at my own crustacean, my dad had informed me that “real Marylanders” know how to pick crabs with the best of ’em. We don’t need a little guide sheet to the crab’s body printed at our tables, or a bored server to come by and try to explain to us how to get the tender, buried meat out.
No, we just know.
I’ve spent my life trying not to embarrass my father and grandmother while we go pick crabs! The first bushel of the season is always a momentous occasion. My dad got a few dozen fresh from a family friend last week and, in honor of the Fourth of July and our — um — independence to eat crustaceans if we want to, we went through quite a few of them last Saturday. Everything was fine, you know, but I could immediately sense that something was . . . different. It took just a few seconds to put my finger on it.
We were missing the Old Bay Seasoning. It’s salty, a little pungent, and definitely critical to any seafood meal. I’m guessing this isn’t just a Maryland thing, but it’s essential to my crab-eating experience. By some miraculous twist of Seafood Fate, we actually had some in the cabinet!
Does anyone else share in our crab love?
What’s your local culinary claim to fame?